What Not to Ask on a Job Application


There are certain questions that may appear discriminatory based on specific topics that are covered by State Laws or regulations. Below are some examples of what not to ask on the job application form.

  • Marital status. Asking a question that targets gender or a person’s familial status appear discriminatory as it is not relevant to the individual’s ability to perform the necessary job duties. Avoid asking for titles such as Ms. or Mrs. or for maiden names.
  • Arrest records. Asking for arrest records can seem discriminatory as it may indirectly impact a protected class. Conviction information should only be included on an application if it is related to the job.
  • Sexual orientation. Asking about an individual’s sexual orientation should be avoided as this is considered a protected class in some states.
  • Height and weight. Unless it is directly related to the person’s ability to do the job, questions regarding height and weight should not be asked, especially if the results have an unequal impact on a specific gender or nationality group.
  • Credit history. Financial questions as well as questions regarding wage garnishments, bankruptcy and home ownership, that are not directly related to the job should not be asked.
  • Questions that directly or indirectly expose the applicant’s age. The only reason that an employer should ask a question related to age is to find out if the candidate is old enough to work. The best way to ask this is “Are you over the age of 18?” (or the minimum age requirement for that position).
  • Questions that expose medical or disability information. Only ask the applicant if they are able to perform the essential duties of the job.
  • Questions that relate to an applicant’s protected activities (Former FMLA Leave, Workers’ Compensation etc.). Asking these questions may seem discriminatory against a person who has used their protected rights.
  • Avoid asking questions about race, national origin, citizenship, creed etc.

It is best to avoid these questions mainly in order to protect the rights and privacy of employees as well as their sensitive information. For more information or guidance on whether or not your job applications are compliant, contact HR Advisors.


-HR Daily Advisor